News

Ontario Provincial Police urging caution after four motorcyclists killed in crashes since April

Dale Carruthers

By Dale Carruthers, The London Free Press

Wearing highly-visible gear helps motorcyclists stay safe, says OPP Sgt. Dave Rektor, seen here Monday with safety gear at London retailer Hully Gully. (CRAIG GLOVER, The London Free Press)

Wearing highly-visible gear helps motorcyclists stay safe, says OPP Sgt. Dave Rektor, seen here Monday with safety gear at London retailer Hully Gully. (CRAIG GLOVER, The London Free Press)

A early rash of motorcycle deaths on Southwestern Ontario roads has provincial police bracing for another deadly season.

Four motorcyclists, including a London woman, have died on OPP-patrolled roads since April.

“It’s concerning to us,” said OPP Sgt. Dave Rektor, who posted a video to social media Monday urging motorcyclists to stay safe.

Driver error, speed and distracted driving are the leading causes of motorcycle crashes, Rektor said.

“Motorcycle riding requires 100 per cent of your attention to the road all the time,” Rektor tells motorcyclists in the 28-second video. “If you’re involved in the crash, whether you’re in the right or the wrong, your injures will likely be life-threatening.”

On Monday, London police said a 69-year-old motorcyclist died from his injuries nearly two weeks after colliding with a pickup on Wonderland Road North.

Over the weekend, a 49-year-old London woman was killed when her motorcycle collided head-on with a car south of Brantford.

“You really have to be a defensive driver,” said Derek Botten, a motorcycle instructor at Fanshawe College, has been riding since the 1970s and has had plenty of close-calls during his decades on the roads.

“The more cars there are out there, the more dangers there are for a motorcycle.”

Botten encourages riders to always wear protective equipment and reflective gear and make sure their bikes are decked out with loads of lights.

“It looks cool to wear a black leather jacket all the time, but do you know what? They (drivers) can’t see you,” Botten said.

“I’d rather be called a dork for wearing something with fluorescent colours on it than being ultra cool and lying in a hospital somewhere.”

Rektor, a former motorcyclist himself, hung up his helmet for good after responding to countless crashes involving motorcycles.

“Last summer confirmed it with all the fatals we had . . . I’ve been to too many of them,” Rektor said.

Thirty-one motorcyclists were killed last year on OPP-patrolled roads, down slightly from 32 the previous year.

In one of the worst crashes, Kyle Melo, 25, his girlfriend Kayla DeMelo, 23, and pickup truck driver Robert Frederick, 55 died on Aug. 28, 2015, when the Melo motorcycle slammed into the side of the pickup on Wellington Road.

dcarruthers@postmedia.ca

twitter.com/DaleatLFPress

Two-wheel toll

Annual motorcycle deaths on OPP-patrolled roads

2015 - 31

2014 - 32

2013 - 28

2012 - 27